Season: 10 Episode: 150
Listen to episode 146 in Spanish:
If God offers peace, why do Christians struggle with anxiety? Anxiety doesn’t only affect the mind. It affects the whole person. Shanda talks about how to deal with anxiety from a biblical perspective, breaking down biblical truths that apply to anxiety in the mind, body, and soul. She shares her own struggle with anxiety, what she does to guard her mind, and why there is hope that this doesn’t have to be part of your life. Check out the FREE mini study on anxiety in the link below and download it immediately.
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Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and align them to biblical truth. I want to start something new today. I am going to read a review because I LOVE seeing your reviews and it just encourages me so much. LisaDanae20 wrote, “My favorite podcast. It is encouraging, challenging, deep, and biblically sound information and interviews that pertain to our current battles to live biblically in an unbiblical world. So much helpful information to equip us (and our children) to stand against the enemy. Thank you Shanda!”
Thank you, Lisa. I really appreciate you taking the time to write that review. It means a lot. 5 star ratings and reviews are a way to get the podcast into the earbuds of others, so if you enjoy the show, please leave a rating and/or review and I will be sure to read it on the podcast.
Today, I have a double whammy for you.
You get a podcast episode on anxiety and I am offering a free mini study on how to deal with anxiety on a daily basis. If you go to my website – shandafulbright.com – you will see the study and once you download it you’ll have it in your inbox. We made it interactive so you can look up scriptures, write down information and meditate on the word yourself. I hope it’s helpful for you.
This episode is inspired by a listener. I’ve shared a little bit about anxiety before but I want to talk about practical tips on how to “live” with anxiety, which sounds terrible but I will explain what I mean in this episode because I’m not saying we have to succumb to anxiety and live with it, but to control it so it doesn’t control you.
So here’s what we’re going to discus today:
- My own experience with anxiety.
- How anxiety affects the whole person – mind, body and soul.
Again, I’ve shared a bit about my anxiety in the past but I am going to do it again today because I think people forget that just because you have a podcast or because you put quotes about God on social media, that somehow you don’t have any problems. That’s just not true. I battle things and am susceptible to the things you are susceptible too because I’m a fallible human being. One of those things being anxiety.
Now, first lets define what anxiety is.
Per the Oxford Dictionary, anxiety is, “A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” So in a nutshell, anxiety has a lot to do with the future. The most common phrase of the anxious person is, “What if …?” And those what ifs an be powerful and very crippling. One of the things Jesus tells us, and we’re going to get into all of this, including this passage – but He tells us not to worry about tomorrow. God really does encourage us to live in the moment and not to worry about those things we don’t have control over. But again, the anxious person has a difficult time controlling their anxious thoughts and always goes to the what if scenarios.
My anxiety started when I was a kid.
I was a what if-er. I would cry the night before school because I was worried my dad would die when I was at school. That could have been because my dad’s dad died when he was only 13 and I knew that. I just don’t think I coped with the fears of “what if” when I was a kid. My dad is an anxious person, in fact his whole family is, and no one learned to cope with it very well. So I was told not to worry and comforted by my parents and things like that but I wasn’t really instructed on how not to be anxious.
So I didn’t deal with anxiety, I just waited for it to go away. And that’s something to really take note of because although anxiety is a feeling of worry and dread, it’s mostly in the mind. So training the mind is necessary and we’ll get into that in a bit.
I never trained my mind and I was hit hard with anxiety when I was about 21 years old.
At the time, I didn’t know what was causing my anxiety as much as I do now. I sort of knew, but I didn’t want to admit that my anxiety was a result of disobedience toward the Lord. I was in a relationship with someone who was the assistant pastor of our church and he was 12 years older than me.
He appeared to be a great guy and I never thought anyone like this man would ever give a 21 year old girl a second thought, so when he did take an interest in me, I thought God was answering my prayers and this man was going to be my husband. However, about a month or so into the relationship, I knew something was wrong. I felt so strongly that the Lord told me this is not the one and I was shocked. In fact, I didn’t like that answer. I was so confused because outwardly this guy checked all the boxes (except he was short and not that good looking, but that’s hindsight). But I knew God said no.
Anxiety set in and took over my mind and my life.
It was terrible. I confronted the guy and told him that God doesn’t want us to be together. I told him that something wasn’t right. He talked me out of it and said I was just afraid of commitment. And he made me feel better. I listened to him. But the next day, I couldn’t shake it. I would wake up at around 5:00am with my heart beating wildly fast, and I would run outside to the haystack and sit and cry and plead with God to take away the anxiety. I was miserable. And God didn’t take it away.
I went to the guy I was dating again (now, mind you this guy lived about 30min away in the next town over and I rarely saw him except for Sundays and Wednesdays after church. He was always busy) and I told him I know we’re not supposed to be together and that God is convicting me that he is not the one. He talked me out of it and told me that I was just an anxious person and afraid of commitment. I felt better for a moment and stayed with him.
This happened a total of three times. And I wasted 4 years dating him and experienced 4 years of miserable anxiety.
Around year 3, things started to come to light that I didn’t know before. This man would always tell you God told him _______________ about you. He would grab my hand and give me words from the Lord. I let him run my life by that kind of manipulation for several years. And finally, I began to realize that he wasn’t who he said he was. We found out that he was married and had kids that were more than half my age. He had run-ins at other churches and they caught on to the fact that he was a wolf in sheep clothing and they kicked him out. He even told me before that people would get mad at him because he was “prophesy” things about them and when they didn’t come true they would realize he was manipulating them.
My anxiety was a result of disobedience. I wasn’t going through anxiety because of something I needed to be medicated for, although there are cases like that and I don’t want to discourage anyone from medical help if that’s where you are. So I want to make that clear right away. The Lord weighed heavily on my heart that something was not right with this guy – 3 times! And I allowed him to talk me out of it.
But I did learn a lot from that experience and I want to share that with you today.
Now remember, I am not a medical professional and I am not coming at this from that angle. I am coming at this from a biblical worldview so my tips in this episode today are going to align, as much as I my feeble mind can accomplish it, to scripture.
Anxiety affects us mind, body, and soul.
We’re going to start with the mind since that makes sense. I believe a lot of my anxiety stemmed from a weak mind. I was not trained to think well. In fact, if you went to a public school and if your kids are going to a public school, you didn’t learn to think you were told what to think. That’s why we’re creating another course on the introduction to logic. Keep an eye out for that in the fall.
What do I mean by a weak mind? It hasn’t been transformed to align to the everlasting truth which is the word of God. It’s not only about knowing Bible verses, it’s knowing how to apply them to your life because you know how to study scripture. You guys know me as Shanda who tells you all of this stuff on a podcast. Nope. That’s not who I was. I was raised in church but I didn’t start reading my Bible daily and consistently until I was 30. I was very meology minded and the verses had to encourage me more than transform me. That’s weak minded. Our mind must be anchored in the truth of God’s word in order to reman stable and untossed by every wind of doctrine and every new news story.
We have to remember that we are the stewards over our minds.
You are the watchmen over your mind. That means you must guard what goes into it. We are not called to be passive when it comes to our minds. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV) says, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Notice that Paul says we don’t fight as the world fights. Anxiety is one of the largest mental health issues facing Americans today. I read before that anti-anxiety medication is at an all time high and that’s in children and teenagers too. The world is going to fight anxiety differently than God tells us to. God tells us to transform (completely change) our minds (Rom 12:2). Paul also says WE demolish arguments (an argument is reasons given for the goal of persuading you to believe something). It is our responsibility to evaluate our thoughts and take them captive. That means God has also given us the tools to accomplish this.
What we have to remember is that everything was affectedly the fall and our minds are no exception.
But what we also have to remember is that our minds affect our entire person. It affects our bodies and soul because it’s often what we feed the mind that either transforms it or keeps it conforming to the patterns of the world.
Romans 12:2 tells us to have a transformed mind. We are to recognize that there are only two options for the mind: transformation to God’s word which are God’s thoughts OR conforming to the ways of the world. It’s going to be easier for our minds to default to the patterns of the world because the fall has affected our minds. When we are redeemed, our minds are redeemed too, in fact Paul says in 1 cor 12;6 that we have the mind of Christ. What does that mean? It means when we are saved, we have the convicting power of the Holy Spirit who guides our paths, disciplines us when we’re wrong, and reminds us of the words of God to keep us from confirming to the pattern of the world.
So let me tell you a few things I do as someone who guards their mind and has learned how to do this after bouts of anxiety.
First, I don’t watch scary movies or even documentaries with murders and things like that. I will have nightmares and I’ll also keep myself awake at night with every little noise thinking someone is breaking into my house. That’s a no go for me. I also don’t watch the news. It used to be only because the news stories would freak me out but not it’s because of that reason and the fact that they’re all a bunch of biased, lying, hyper inflating reality and/or just trying to get ratings so they’re all about the drama, but that’s a side note.
I don’t dive into conspiracy theories because they usually are really paranoid people looking way into things that if they were true, you won’t know about it until it’s time for it to come to light anyway. I don’t go looking for trouble is what I’m saying. People do send me things that are conspiratorial and I just brush them off.
My point is that you have to know what sets off your anxiety and then you guard your mind against it.
And one of the biggest tips I have for you in regard to transforming your mind is to study the Bible. I was 30 years old when anxiety gripped me again and it was terrible. My two boys were born and then were babies – just 2 and 4 months old and I couldn’t eat, I could barely sleep well enough, I was teaching kindergarten and I knew this was a spiritual battle rather than postpartum or something of that nature. I decided to read my bible every day.
I knew I didn’t think correctly, I didn’t trust God, I didn’t really know how to battle this.
So I told the Lord I was going to make His daily bread my daily nourishment for my mind. And since then, my relationship with the Lord has grown by leaps and bounds. God has shown me things in His word that has strengthened my mind and it is only because of knowing Him, His faithfulness, his attributes, His goodness, that has increased my confidence that He is taking care of all of the “What ifs” that can cripple me if I didn’t know him. That’s why Isaiah 26:3 says, “He keeps him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him and who trusts in Him.”
It’s equivalent to Peter stating on the surface of the water while his gaze was fixed on Jesus but once he got his eyes on the storm he began to sink. And the wonderful thing is, even in the stinking Jesus was still there to catch him. God never fails.
And that brings us to the Body portion of anxiety. When I went through anxiety the first time, I could not eat and dropped to about 128 pounds. I am 5’8 1/2 you guys and I was skinny. I was always nervous and weak feeling. But when I went through it a second time I was determined to eat and so I made peanut butter and honey sandwiches and at a half of one of those. If you let yourself get weak when you already feel nervous, it just makes it worse. So eat and eat better than PB and honey. But if that’s all you can eat, eat that.
Drink water. Our bodies need to stay hydrated especially when we’re under stress. These are so practical, but so easily overlooked.
Exercise. It doesn’t have to crazy.
Just get up, get out, go for a walk. Move your body. When we are anxious it can paralyze us and keep us from living life. That is not purposeful. That is not intentional. So determine in your heart that you will not lay down. If you can get out of bed and brush your hair, let that be your goal. Don’t neglect the body God gave you. Remember that you are more than a shell. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you. Steward your body well.
And finally, the soul.
Anxiety is a distraction. It takes our focus off of who God is and what He can do and puts the focus on the world. It really puts the focus on me. It’s about my comfort. What if I lose this or that. What if something bad happens to me or my family. If you think about what you’re really worried about, you are worrying about the things you want or need, right?
It affects the soul because it causes us to focus on self rather than God.
Mattew 6:25-34 is such a great passage of scripture about anxiety and it shows that when we worry about the things of life, we are no different than the rest of the world. Let’s read it and then we’ll talk about it.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
In verses 25-30, Jesus tells us all the reasons not to worry: because life is about more than the physical. It’s more than the present. When we put our minds on the physical and the present, we are earthly minded. However, Jesus said God knows that we need even the temporary things like our next meal, clothing, etc.
He goes on to say that worrying is not godly in 31-32 because the world runs after those things.
That’s where their focus is. But again, God knows you need them and He will provide them for you. In verse 33, Jesus tells us where to put our focus – the kingdom of God. Seek those things knowing that He will provide for you.
And finally, Jesus doesn’t reassure us that there will never be a time not to worry. He says there will always be trouble in the world, so why worry. It’s the word. It’s the result of a fallen world but it doesn’t have to be the result of your life when Christ is in it.
There is no magic pill to transform your mind like there is a new diet trend to transform your body. It’s always going to be the earthly vs the eternal, the temporary vs the infinite, what passes away vs what remains and that only happens as the Holy Spirit works in us and transforms our minds by the word of God.
God tells us this is possible. He tells us we can be confident in who He is and know Him so that the world does not toss us.
I hope this encourage you and that you will download the free study on Anxiety and Christianity: how to deal with it from a biblical perspective. I know anxiety doesn’t have to control your life because God has helped me through it and I am completely different because of it.
If you have any questions for me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll catch you on the next one.